Canaries’ fortunes depend on Lambert, say fans

When Burnley Football Club put a statement on its website at 10pm last night saying it had asked for permission to speak to Norwich City manager Paul Lambert, it sparked a frenzy of activity on fans' message boards.

The request by Burnley, who are seven places below Norwich in the Championship, happened just hours after Lambert was nominated for December's Championship manager of the month award.

Since winning League One, and taking the Canaries to third place in the Championship, there is no doubt that Lambert's star has been on the rise.

The Canaries boss led his side to wins at Derby County and Coventry City, and at home to Sheffield United last month – losing just once, at home to Portsmouth.

The Pink 'Un message board was red hot within minutes of Burnley's announcement, and on-call sportswriter Michael Bailey was flooded with comments as a debate raged on Twitter into the small hours.

The Norwich City board's announcement, an hour-and-a-half after Burnley's, may have allayed fears slightly, but it did little to dampen the speculation.

The way in which Lambert left Colchester United for Norwich City in August 2009 means Canaries fans have always had niggling doubts in the back of their minds that their manager could one day up and leave.

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The Essex club reported City over the affair for misconduct and a breach in regulations and last summer Norwich were ordered to pay Colchester �425,000 compensation, plus a �75,000 fine and a �125,000 fine suspended for two years.

Ben East, of Northern Canaries, said Lambert had been crucial to the turnaround in the club's fortunes, but admitted many fans are aware Lambert will put his own career ambitions before loyalty to Norwich.

He said: 'The reason most fans worry is that, unlike most managers that we have ever had, the team's fortunes seem so bound up in this manager.

'Stringer's team and Walker's team you could see a situation where the team could go on and continue to do well even without the manager.

'We have got a good squad, but I saw games over Christmas and we had a League One side out, but it seems like it's the force of his personality which gets results and as a Norwich fan you worry about what will happen without that force of personality. He gets the best out of players.'

But Burnley has been in the Premiership recently, and has the benefit of parachute payments to bolster its bid to get back into the top flight, and to stay there.

Kathy Blake, secretary of Norwich City Independent Supporters' Association (NCISA), still believes that despite this spending power, Burnley is not a better bet than Norwich.

She said: 'The big question to me is what have they got that we haven't got and there's only one small answer to that - it's nearer to Scotland where Paul Lambert's family live.

'It would be practically a good decision to him, but they have smaller gates than us, they are lower in the league and their potential is not as big as ours.

'They are in the shadow of clubs like Manchester United and City but round here Lambert has a monopoly on fans and at this stage of his career I can't see how it would benefit him.'

Have your say on Lambert's future by logging on to the Pink Un message boards at www.pinkun.co.uk